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Argentina Congress votes to dissolve intelligence agency


ARGENTINA’S Congress has approved a bill to scrap the country’s intelligence agency.

The Intelligence Secretariat will be replaced with a new federal agency that will be accountable to Congress.

The proposal was drafted last month by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, following the death of special prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

She accused a rogue agent of feeding misleading information to Mr Nisman, who was investigating the government.

The lower house of Congress voted 131 to 71 in favour of the bill. It had already been passed by the Senate.

During a six-hour-long debate, opposition lawmakers repeatedly expressed their discontent with the fact that under the new law, oversight of all wiretaps will be moved from the intelligence services to the General Attorney’s office.

They said they felt uneasy about the close ties between the government and the current General Attorney.

They also said they were worried about the role army chief Cesar Milani would play in intelligence gathering under the new law.

The new agency is expected to be set up within 90 days of the bill being signed into law by Ms Fernandez.

Ms Fernandez had argued a reform of Argentina’s intelligence services was overdue.

The agency had kept much of the same structure it had during the military government, which ended in 1983, she said.

But opposition congressman Manuel Garrido warned that there were no safeguards to prevent the new agency from committing serious irregularities.

“What worries us is that there has not been, nor will there be proper control,” he told Reuters news agency.

Mr Garrido also said the law was a smokescreen to divert attention from the death under mysterious circumstances of federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Mr Nisman, who was 51, was found dead in his flat on 18 January with a gunshot wound to his head hours before he was due to testify to a congressional committee.

He had been investigating the bombing of the Amia Jewish centre in the capital, Buenos Aires, in 1994 which left 85 people dead.

Mr Nisman had accused President Fernandez and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of involvement in a plot to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the bombing.

Ms Fernandez rejected the allegations and said a former secret agent had mislead the prosecutor in order to discredit her government.

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